Disclaimer--- They're Disney's, not mine. What a shame!
Author's note--- This story is another chapter in my long-running Dragon Chronicles. Not every story in this series will be listed on FF.net, but all of them are listed in chronological writing order on my webpage. If you'd like to find out more about Zelda or other characters that will appear later in this series, visit my website at http://members.fortunecity.com/zeldathedragon and go to the information page. The rest of my stories can be found in the fanfiction section.
Rating: PG-13 for some violence and blood. Don't get mad, I really do love the Ducks!
Written by Zelda
Phil walked camly into the Ready Room, holding a white business envelope in his hand.
"Whazzat Phil?" Nosedive asked, looking up from his comic book, and his position lying down on the couch.
Tanya, who was leaning over a table trying to fix a smashed com, looked up from her work as Phil handed the envelope to Dive, with a big grin on his face.
Nosedive opened it. "You've gotta be pulling my tailfeathers." he said.
"What is it?" asked Mallory.
"Plane tickets!" he said.
Phil crossed his arms and grinned. "I've arranged an exhibition game for you boobies." he smiled. Mallory groaned. "Not another one Phil! You remember the LAST time you got us into an exhibition game..."
"No no it's nothing like that!" he said. "The Allegran island chain's trying to start up their own league." he said.
"The Allegran islands?" Nosedive perked up.
"What's that?" Grin asked.
"Only a chain of the hippest tropical islands on the planet!" Dive said, getting up.
"Hey, it's the offseason, I wouldn't mind a vacation." Mallory sighed.
"Yeah, a REAL vacation, without any lizards." Tanya agreed. "I say we take it up!"
"Yeah but what about Wildwing and Duke? Where are they?" Grin asked.
"They've already gone." Phil told them. "I gave them the tickets this morning and sent them off on an earlier flight."
"Oh, I didn't even know they had left!" Mallory said slowly. "Well, we'd better get packing!"
Mallory checked her suitcase one more time before she would leave. Suntan lotion, bathing suits, sunglasses, hats, hockey uniform.... she had everything.
"What, are you taking the Pond with you too Mal?" Nosedive said, yelling in from her doorway. "Come on, we're gonna miss our flight!"
Phil watched the Migrator pull away from the Pond and sighed heavily. Whew. That out of the way, he walked back into the Ready Room.
Suddenly, another door opened, and Wildwing and Duke stepped through. They walked over to some chairs and sat down.
Phil was tapping lazily away at Drake One.
"Hey Phil, where is everyone?" Wing asked.
"They went off to the Allegran islands." he said nonchalantly.
"What?" Duke asked, thinking Phil was being sarcastic.
"They went off?" Wing asked.
"Yup." Phil said. "I sent them off."
"Without telling us? What for?" Duke asked. "Why wouldn't you----" he was snapped short when Phil turned around, a red gleam in his eyes.
He suddenly disappeared, surrounded by a sparkling green veil of shadow.
Tanya set her bags down in her room, yawning and stretching. She and Mallory were sharing a room, while Grin and Dive shared another.
"This hotel is great! The rooms are huge and I can't wait to see the pool." Mallory said, setting her suitcase at the foot of her bed.
"I dunno Mal, something about this place is givin' me the creeps." Tanya said. "It feels like I've been here before."
"So you got a random case of deja-vu, live it up Tanya!" Mallory said, and walked out to get some ice.
Nosedive sat down on the sand with a towel and some suntan lotion.
"Man, this is the life!" he sighed, leaning back on the warm sand.
Zelda landed next to him with a whole coconut in her claws, and began to rip the shell off to get to the nut itself.
A man walked up behind them dressed in a butler's outfit. "I hope everything's going well sir." he said.
"Just fine!" Nosedive smiled back. He drew in his breath when he saw that the man behind him had one eye missing, replaced by a mechanical device with a red disk in the middle. Nosedive frowned. "Have we met before?" he asked.
The man stood back and thought. "Hmmmm, you know, I don't zink we've met face to face..." he said. "But I can show you what probably caused you to hear of me." he grinned.
Suddenly, Nosedive saw a deep white gas hiss up around him. He began to cough violently. Sleeping gas! He choked and fell to his knees. Zelda was near him, he could feel her trying to blow the gas away.
"Get help!" Nosedive managed, gagging as he looked about frantically. He saw Zelda fly off as his face hit the sand, and everything started to go black.
"Don't vorry little Duck, she'll be reunited vith you in good time." the man smiled, grabbing Nosedive by the back of his t-shirt and dragging him away.
Zelda soared up into the air with a frightful quickness. She swirled around the castle-like hotel where the Ducks were being housed. Where was their room?! As she flew, Zelda thought how this building looked similar to one they had visited before, on the Allegran island of.... "Licktenstamp!" she groaned, suddenly realizing what they had done. She hurtled downwards.
Mallory started with a loud yelp as Zelda came flying through the open window and rolled to a stop on the floor.
"Zelda?!" Tanya started.
"We gotta get outta here now!" she cried. "It's a trap! We're on Licktenstamp!"
Tanya's jaw dropped open. "You're kidding!" she said.
But the presence of that familiar white gas soon put their questions to rest.
Zelda yawned and blinked. At first she didn't want to wake up. She felt so warm and comfortable, she was just too tired. Slowly, her thoughts started to filter back to her, and she snapped violently awake. She was in a cage. Tanya was beside her, but there was no sign of Dive, Grin or Mallory. Tanya grunted as she slowly rolled up.
"You okay?" she asked slowly.
"Yeah... where are the others?" Zelda asked.
"You von't be seeing zthem for a long time." a voice interrupted Tanya's reply. A small loudspeaker was mounted on a tree across the clearing the cage was in.
"Let us out Baron!" Tanya threatened.
Suddenly, the cage bars fell away.
"You'll regret zat Duck." Baron said confidently. "Ze only way to get of ziz island is to survive it's perils! If the terrain dozen't kill you, my hunting machines will!"
Zelda growled and threw a stone at the speaker, knocking it to the ground and destroying it.
The dragon stumbled up over a rock, sniffing the air.
"It's different this time though. He took my Omnitool. He doesn't want us to find our way out." Tanya said, coming up behind her.
Zelda was tired. That gas was still wearing off. "We'll just have to keep our eyes open. According to what happened on this island the last time we were here---"
Zelda put a claw against Tanya's shoe to silence her.
Tanya listened intently. Somewhere nearby, a low, pneumonic hiss.
She was shoved to the ground hard, seeing stars as she landed. The purple fabric on the back of her suit ripped loudly as something tore at it. Zelda screamed animistically in attack, and the pressure on Tanya's back was alleviated.
Zelda shoved the robotic hyena to the ground, and bit into the metal casing in it's neck.
Tanya got up, only to be knocked down again. Two more pneumonic hisses, the clicking springs of action landed on her, tearing at her. She cried out as the skin along her arm was ripped. She rolled up and punched one of the robots away, hard. Her hand froze as a wave of pain washed up her arm, feedback from the blow. Tanya cringed and kicked the other hyena away.
Zelda flew over her head. "RUN!" she cried.
Tanya stumbled and followed blindly. Up ahead, she saw smoke. That was strange... but suddenly Tanya knew what it was. The thick, disgusting smell in the air made it clear: a sulfur spring. She ran into the steaming yellow smoke, and met up with Zelda, who was panting. "Think we can lose them in here?" Tanya asked. Her question was answered as something spun her around and tripped her. Tanya saw the ground come rushing up to her, and upon an incredible impact to her forehead, knew no more.
Zelda howled as she backed up. Two hyenas remained, snarling and snapping mechanically at her. Zelda would have to think quick. She flapped and flew up. One of the hyenas leapt at her, clamping onto her foot and tearing as it fell away. Zelda wheeled off, away from Tanya. The hyenas followed, into the deep smoke. Zelda swirled back and came into plain sight about half a minute later. The two hyenas were barely visible behind her, sparking in malfunction, half submerged in water. Those two had been dumb enough to try and run through a spring. Zelda coughed loudly, landing roughly with squinted eyes. The sulfur burned her eyes and the inside of her nose and throat. She loped up to Tanya, trying to stay off of her injured right foot. But Tanya was out cold. Zelda managed to roll her onto her back. She sat up, alone in the smoke. She had to get Tanya out of here. Zelda took a white hankerchief out of Tanya's pocket and loped back to the water, dipping it into the yellowed water in what seemed to be a clean spot. She returned to Tanya and placed the damp cloth over her head. She would breathe easier now. But as for Zelda, it was her responsibility to get Tanya out of here. She grabbed the duck by the back of her uniform, and stood behind her head. She braced her hind legs, and launched herself backwards, managing to drag Tanya a few inches over the hardened yellow earth. Zelda regathered herself and flung out again. Zelda lunged again. She developed a pattern of resting for a few seconds and pulling, resting and pulling, dragging and dragging. A few inches at a time. Minutes later Zelda was heaving with effort. It was no easy task at all to haul so much weight with only the teeth. Her jaws and neck ached. Her throat was parched and her eyes were shut, crusted with sulfur. The sulfur got into her bleeding foot and stung and burned. Tanya showed no sign of waking. Drag and rest, drag and rest. But the ground was turning to brown again. Soon Zelda passed by a bush. They were leaving the springs, into the forest that surrounded it. Zelda stopped, panting hard, her energy spent. She collapsed, coughing violently, beside Tanya.
Wet. Tanya felt the wetness all over her face, her beak and eyelids. She slowly faded back into consciousness, guided by the pain in her left hand and the throbbing static in her head. Tanya reached up and felt a wet cloth over her head. Removing it and opening her eyes, Tanya was suprised to see a patchy forest canopy above them. She leaned up on her right elbow and looked around, to see Zelda laying near her. She must have dragged her all this way! Fighting the dizziness from her head, Tanya leaned up fully, and turned to have a look at her comrade. Sulfur was crusted on her feet and around her eyes, nostrils, and mouth. The dragon inhaled irratically. Tanya realized that she must be having trouble breathing, having inhaled a lot of that sulfur. She took the wet cloth and started wiping the yellow off of her head as she thought. The noise in her head made it hard. If Zelda had inhaled all that stuff, it could very well be caked on the inside of her lungs. Tanya gauged her plan carefully.
"Sorry about this girl." she said, and raised her hand, striking a stern but short blow to Zelda's ribcage. What would have been a yelp of protest was cut short by a fit of violent coughing, as the dragon sprung to life, desperate for air. She raised herself on her forepaws, head down miserably as she spat out wet, yellow chunks. Finally, the coughing slowed, and she was able to breathe.
"That stuff is nasty....." she breathed, lowering herself again.
"You okay?" Tanya asked.
"Now I am..." Zelda replied slowly.
"You dragged me all that way, didn't you?" Tanya smiled.
"Never underestimate a dragon with a purpose." Zelda grinned. She sat up and felt Tanya's forehead, which featured a darkening bruise. "Man... that thing looks bad. Any dizziness, memory loss?" the dragon asked.
"Yeah... yeah I can't see that strait." Tanya replied after a minute.
"Could be a mild concussion..." Zelda thought.
Tanya brought her left hand up to examine her head for herself, but gasped in pain upon moving it.
"What?" Zelda asked.
"I punched one of those hyenas..."
"You mean the one with the big dent in the flank?" Zelda smiled slightly. "You should leave that stuff to Grin, looks like that hand may be sprained."
"Speaking of Grin, where are the others?" Tanya sighed.
"Better off than we are, I hope." Zelda said, taking Tanya's hankerchief and tying it around the gash along the duck's shoulder. She then got a few sticks and stray vines to splint the hand. "For all we know, they could already be trophies on the Baron's wall."
"Jeez I hope not." Tanya said. She tried to stand, but was so dizzy that she quickly leaned against a nearby tree.
"I suggest we sleep here for the night." Zelda coughed. Evening was close at hand anyway. "We're pretty safe here, most of the robots would avoid the springs, I imagine."
Tanya shook her head. She didn't know what to expect out here. "I'm worried about the others Zel." she sighed.
The dragon rumbled in agreement.
Tanya sat up again, placed a hand around a vine, and pulled herself up, balancing herself against it. "I think we should go find them."
Zelda knew going out into the jungle at night was a big risk. But Tanya was no baby, she knew what she was getting into. And if Tanya could keep going, she could too. Zelda looked up at her. "Let's go."
Wildwing tried to cough, the stale air he was trying to force out of his lungs being shoved stubbornly back down his throat. He shuffled his armor, feeling his wrists being pulled uncomfortably behind his back. This gag was unbearable. He wanted to rip it off and be able to breathe, for crying out loud! He looked over at Duke with helpless eyes. His armor was too big to let his hands maneuver out of his binds. But Duke could get out of anything. Duke glanced back at him with knitted brows. He was working on something. He wrenched his hands back and forth. The ropes that tied them were thick and heavy, thicker than Wildwing's. Finally, and unfortunately, those Saurians were learning something. And Duke had been bound hand and foot, while Wildwing's feet were free. But Duke wasn't used to the thick binding. The heavy ropes would prove too much for him. And the Saurians had stripped the two Ducks of just about everything but their usual armor. Wildwing shook his head. Great. Just great. He breathed heavily through his gag again and looked around. The cargo hold of Draggy's scout ship was no first class flight. It was just light enough to see. Wildwing had been wondering where Draguanus was taking them for hours. The flight had seemed to last days. His wrists ached from being bound for so long. Moreso, he was worried about the others. He sank into the back of his mind and feared the worst for his team.
Mallory drew a dripping wet fern leaf over her head gently, and peered out from under it, into the night.
Nosedive crouched behind her groggily, shivering a bit in the night's cold.
Grin towered over the both of them.
Mallory was as tense as a hunting jungle cat. But it was fear that made her so jumpy. She had been in situations like this before.... being tracked down by the Saurian hunter drones back on Puckworld, playing a deadly cat-and-mouse game through fields of rubble and half-destroyed buildings. But it was so different out here. There were no bullets or exploding mines, just crickets and the occasional bird or monkey calling. The night would cloak her.... and also hide her enemies. Those robots could be anywhere. Mallory was undescribably thankful that they hadn't run into any yet. Still, she was worried about the others. Not only Tanya and Zelda but Wildwing and Duke. She wished she had her com, she wished she could talk to them... just to see how they were off. She hated this isolation. She looked back behind her and signaled that they could move. She emerged from underneath the fern, and into the tall grass of a clearing. The grass grew higher as the clearing went on, getting taller than her head. She paused as Nosedive and Grin flanked her.
"A good place to hide." Nosedive noted, nodding towards the grass.
"A good place to hide an ambush." Grin said ominously.
What Mallory would give for a pucklauncher. She sucked in a breath of the cold air and picked her way up into the grass. It crept over her head and she became part of it, weeding through it carefully. Behind her, a stick snapped, the noise seeming deafening in the night, like a firecracker exploding.
The three froze.
Mallory shot a look backwards to see Nosedive's foot delicately withdrawing from the broken stick. She glared at him and his face reddened.
His only reaction was a frightened smirk.
Grin put his hand up to stop the both of them.
They halted altogether.
Thankfully enough, the twig didn't seem to attract anything. Mallory tried to relax her muscles. Maybe this island wasn't as bad as it seemed. Maybe the horror stories Wing and Tanya and Duke had told the rest of the team were just overblown. Maybe those robots weren't waiting around every turn. Then again, Mallory thought, maybe they were. Slowly, silently, she pressed onward. As she walked, the grass got lower again, slapping at her legs as she moved. Suddenly, she halted. The forest came to an abrupt stop about fifty feet ahead of them. The grass ended, and beyond that there was a field of bare earth and ragged tree stumps.
"Must be a logging operation." Grin said.
Nosedive nodded and braced his hands on his knees. He was still trying to shake off all that sleeping gas.
Suddenly, there was a bursting crack over their heads. They all must have jumped four feet in the air. Thunder. The sound was thunder. It rolled over the landscape in a wave of earthshaking noise.
"Great, looks like it's going to rain." Nosedive snorted.
Mallory looked up at slate gray clouds overhead. Lightning cracked not too far away. "We'd better get back into the jungle." she said.
Slowly, they heard more rumbling from far away. It quickly grew closer.
"That.... doesn't sound like thunder...." Mallory breathed.
There was a long pause as they heard the rumbling grow louder.
"No...." Grin said. "It doesn't."
The rain was coming down in droves. Yuck. It was a cold rain too, Zelda hated that. She drew her wings over her head and proceeded on through the jungle. The thick canopy that had shaded them during they day was useless as an umbrella. The drenching downpour filtered through the leaves and flooded the trodden forest pathways with thin, black mud. Tanya was ahead of her, marching steadily through the mess, her boots creating sucking noises each time they were pulled from the muddy ground. It was hard going. Zelda limped miserably. "Let's see if we can't get out of this forest." she called up to Tanya.
The Duck ahead of her paused against a tree to rest, and nodded. "Yeah, this is exhausting."
Zelda dug her claws into the tree and began to climb up it. Ten feet up, she stopped and squinted. "There's a field about twenty feet directly to our left." she said, and glided down, the rain drumming on her wings.
Tanya wrung the wet from her drooping hair, not that it made much difference, and resumed her walk again. She thought she could make the field out among the trees.
Mallory threw herself to her right, barely avoiding the charging headlights. She felt a violent breeze speed past her, and heard the squealing of brakes. She felt mud, oozing up around her. Yuck. Mallory got to her knees and looked back. Blood red taillights snarled like two eyes in the blackness. Lightning flashed to reveal some sort of vehicle... a huge truck with thick tires and some sort of structure on the back.... The vehicle's engine rumbled as the truck hit reverse. Mallory shoved herself to her feet and ran backwards, towards the grass. Lasers slit the ground a few feet away. Saurian lasers. Mallory suddenly changed direction. She could hear the truck roaring behind her, but it didn't seem to be following her. She wondered about the others and turned to look for them. Suddenly something ran into her, nearly knocking her flat off her feet.
Grin's hand reached out and grabbed her just before she fell. "Sorry." he said quickly. "Didn't see you."
"Where's Nosedive?" Mallory asked.
"I don't know." Grin said. Suddenly there was a flash of red light, and Grin toppled over in the mud, rolling on the ground.
Mallory squatted beside him. "What happened?"
"Got my leg, I'll be fine, run!" Grin yelled, holding his ankle, and pushed her away.
Mallory looked up to see two thick headlight beams catching she and Grin like deer on a road. Mallory darted away, diving behind a tree trunk for cover. She rolled up, the thick mud oozing down her back. Peering over the top of the sawn stump, she saw the truck jerk to a halt about twenty feet from Grin, who was trying to stand. The passenger door opened, and a thin, short figure leapt out, shouldering a laser. The Chameleon. Mallory snarled.
The little lizard strode up to the kneeling Duck, and nonchalantly aimed his laser gun.
Suddenly, Grin lunged at him and punched him halfway across the clearing.
The lizard slid to a stop in the mud, lightning streaking over him.
Grin tried to stand again, when suddenly a figure appeared behind him in a puff of smoke. Wraith cracked him solidly across the back with his staff, and Grin fell back to the mud, not moving.
Wraith cackled loudly and raised his staff higher for another blow.
She stood up and was about to run out there, when somebody jumped in behind Grin.
Nosedive yelled angrily as he planted a kick firmly in the back of the wrinkled old Saurian. Wraith was flung forward into the mud, getting up slowly.
He started to walk towards Grin, who was just starting to get up. Suddenly Nosedive cried out as a blast of red light violently cut him down. The burning pain of a laser blast oozed over his stomach. As he kneeled to the ground, he looked up to see the Chameleon pacing toward him in the darkness, muddy laser pointed at the Duck's head. Nosedive tried to stand, when something grabbed his hands and pulled them back.
Wraith threw a heavy rope over the torso of the Duck and yanked it tight.
Nosedive was pulled back, choking, as the rope was tied around his stomach and hands.
"Thought you were slick, did you?" Wraith grinned at him. He raised his staff and magically lifted the Duck high in the air, hurling him into the back of the truck.
Grin, tied as well and groaning in pain, followed a few seconds later.
Both rolled to a sitting position along the wall of the truckbed.
Nosedive looked around him quickly. The truck was fitted with a wooden paneling, much like that used for transporting livestock. And Dive froze as he realized he and Grin weren't alone.
Lighting raked the sky to reveal two figures huddled in a corner as a bound and gagged Wing and Duke.
"Wing!" Nosedive coughed. "You guys okay?"
His brother managed a nod through his bindings.
"I hope everyone's having fun back there." a familiar voice suddenly cut through the conversation.
Dive looked up to see Dragaunus, glaring at him from the driver's seat, a taloned hand on the steering wheel.
"You lousy lizard! I'm gonna have a piece of you for dinner when I get outta this!" Nosedive yelled angrily.
"Now now czhildren," Baron Von Licktenstamp turned about from the passenger seat. "No fighting, and keep to your own zide of the car. But... I suppoze zhat won't be zo hard, now will it?" he suddenly burst into laughter as the engine roared, and the vehicle lurched forward into the mud.
Mallory flipped off of the log stump as the lasers started to hail on her again. She was all alone out here.... Grin and Dive had been captured. Mallory had to make a break for the jungle. The headlights caught her as she made a run for it. The forest was about ten feet away when suddenly two figures came walking from it. Mallory stopped short and gasped as she recognized Tanya and Zelda!
Tanya waved to her, not knowing of the danger.
"Tanya! Run for cover!" Mallory yelled, as the lasers slit past her.
The Duck and dragon at the forest's edge suddenly realized what was happening, and split, running into the open field.
"No! Not there!" Mallory yelled, but it was too late.
Tanya was cut down by a laser as she ran.
Zelda roared and loped toward her, but the truck got there before she could.
Wraith and the Chameleon jumped quickly out to tie up their prize.
Someone from inside the truck started to fire on Zelda and Mallory, and the two resumed running again.
Mallory made a mad dash for the forest, her lungs bursting with effort. Five feet to the forest's edge... four feet... three feet.... and suddenly she felt her foot snagged on a root. Helpless, she saw the mud rushing up to her, and felt her hands dig uselessly into the ooze as she landed, face first in the muck. She gasped for breath and shot up again, but it was too late. A thick rope was lassoed around her. She could feel the hot lights of the truck on her back. The rope held her fast. Exhausted, Mallory gave up and dropped back into the cold mud.
To be continued......